To attract tourist dollars, Saudi Arabia will host more events this year

Published on : Friday, February 23, 2018

attract tourist dollars, SaudiThis year, Saudi Arabia will arrange over 5,000 shows, festivals and concerts. It will double the number of 2017, as the nation is all set to shirk its conservative image in a way to attract international dollars at home and lure visitors in return.

The state is keen to seize up to a quarter of the $20 billion expend overseas every year, at present, by Saudis looking for entertainment, raising a ban on cinemas and performance of Western artists.

In December, last year, U.S. rapper Nelly performed in Jeddah, even though it was a men-only crowd. Greek musician Yanni played to a mixed-gender crowd on the other hand.

The slow relaxing in terms of gender segregation risks has the chance to create a backlash from religious conservatives. However, objection of public to a wider program of reforms have been pretty subdued lately after many critics got arrested.

While attending an event to launch the 2018 entertainment calendar, Ahmed al-Khatib, chairman of the state-run General Entertainment Authority or GEA, explained that investments related infrastructure over the next decade has the possibility to reach 240 billion riyals ($64 billion), comprising an opera house to be finished around 2022.

This construction will contribute 18 billion riyals to annual GDP and provide possibility to create 224,000 new jobs by 2030, the GEA said.

“The bridge is starting to reverse,” Khatib said, referring to the causeway linking Saudi Arabia with more liberal Bahrain where many Saudis flock for weekend getaways.

“And I promise you that we will reverse this migration, and people from Dubai, Kuwait and Bahrain will come to Saudi.”

“We are bringing the most exciting and famous events to Saudi Arabia this year,” Khatib told Reuters in an interview, adding that state-sponsored entertainment events would be staged in 56 cities.

“We are creating new local events with local content,” he said. “Almost 80 percent of the calendar (events) are for families.”

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